Express & Star

Watch as mayoral candidates clash over police stations, transport and pledges at Express & Star hustings

The two front runners in the race to be West Midlands Mayor clashed over controversial police station closures.

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The Express & Star Mayoral Hustings

Tory incumbent Andy Street and Labour candidate Richard Parker were among candidates at an Express & Star hustings debate.

The event, hosted by the University of Wolverhampton, brought five of the six candidates together for a two-hour question and answer session.

Members of a young audience, including students from the university, spoke of their concerns over knife crime, following a series of murders in the Black Country that have left a number of teenagers dead on our streets.

Conservative Mayor Andy Street clashed with Labour's Richard Parker

They questioned the visibility of policing in the region, calling for the presence of police stations within the community.

Mr Street, who failed in his bid to take over the Labour-controlled police and crime commissioner office, said: “Neighbourhood policing is so important and this is why police stations are vital.

“We would halt the closure of police stations, which the Labour police and crime commissioner is planning. Aldridge, Wednesfield – these stations are closing and this must not happen. Local community policing is so important.”

Challenging Mr Parker directly, Mr Street said: “Richard you are now supporting a Labour police and crime commissioner who has a proposal to close 30 stations.

“Your own literature says you will halt the police station closures, but now you are supporting his plan to close 30 stations, so which is it? Closure or savings?”

Mr Parker responded: “We have a fantastic Labour candidate for police and crime commissioner, Simon Foster.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Ebrahim Adia (standing) speaking at the hustings

“Responding to massive cuts to the budget, Simon is looking how the police can operate out of other public sector buildings.

“So it is not a matter of just closing police stations, it is finding places in the community where the police can work, where other civil servants work from.”

The West Midlands Mayoral election will provide the winner with the role of advocating for the region, bringing in investment and developing infrastructure such as the Midland Metro.

The Express & Star West Midlands Mayoral hustings highlighted the issues facing the region as voters go to the polls on May 2.

Candidates laid out their visions for the future at Wolverhampton University and were quizzed by voters and students. There were clashes between exasperated candidates who argued over both details of each other's promises and the various records of administrations, local and national.

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